Film Talk: Ajala Bandele


Hello, folks, It’s your friendly neighbourhood film critic here! This is a new semi-recurring segment I’ll be doing called ‘Film Talk’ where I sit down with a number of people involved in the wonderful world of cinema. Sometimes they will be transcripts like this one and sometimes they will be audio and/or video chats.

Today I got to speak with the wonderfully talented and funny Ajala Bandele, the director/writer/editor/producer/co-star of the film OMG… We’re in a Horror Movie. He spoke candidly about getting the film made, how he got started in the business, and some advice for future filmmakers.

OMG... We're in a Horror Movie3

I would like to thank Ajala Bandele for joining me to talk about his upcoming feature-length film, OMG… We’re in a Horror Movie.

Thank you for having me.

Now before I dive into the film too much, I would like to ask what made you decide to want to start a career in filmmaking?

It seemed to be easier than transmogrifying into a Chimpanzee which was my first career choice but was deemed impractical due to various technical elements I have yet to procure. Besides that I’ve always loved movies, loved acting, loved writing, and loved directing. Creating films is one of the best ways a creative person can produce their own work and show it to those who would take notice. Plus my mom told me she wanted to see me on the big screen so if mom wants something then she gets it.

And, now, you’ve also made a lot of YouTube videos as well. Was that sort of a precursor to making a feature-length film? Because that’s quite a jump from five-minute video to a film that’s over an hour and a half.

That would have to be the precursor. I really had no experience with an actual film set other than being an actor in commercials and the videos I did for youtube and funny or die. But short sketches and music videos don’t really prepare you for a feature film. Nothing really can, except your first feature film.

Alright, so let’s talk about your film, OMG… We’re in a Horror Movie. According to IMDB, this is your directorial debut. So tell us a little bit about that.

You could say this was my directorial debut for film for sure. I had previously directed two different plays I had written, plus a scattering of plays throughout my high school and college years. I had originally wanted someone else to direct as I was more interested in just acting. But after looking around I decided “How hard could it be?” Cue hero music and montage.

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A lot of independent filmmakers often wonder how hard it is to get their movies off the ground and released. How many channels did you have to go through? Did you have to avoid a lot of hurdles and obstacles on your path? How long did the entire experience take from script to screen?

It’s hard going from an idea to reality, but for the most part all it takes is effort. We found our distributor by going to the AFM and loitering in the lobby until security kicked us out. We were so new at all this we didn’t know what hurdles to leap, or if their were any obstacles. We just had a goal in mind, and kept working towards that goal. Took us about 2 years from start to finish.

As for the film itself, it’s obviously a very tight production with many of the actors taking on crew roles as well. It feels very close-knit. Was everyone on set someone that you had known beforehand or were some of them brought in through auditions and casting calls?

Liz Fenning was the only person we met through auditions. Aside from her I had gone to school with everyone else. I wanted to cast actors I already new, and since I wrote specific parts based on them I just cast mainly on that. So me, Chris Hampton, Sharon Mae Wang, and Shanna Malcolm all had parts written for them.

You wear many hats during this production as director, co-writer, editor, and producer. How did you manage to juggle all of these positions while not wanting to tear your own head off? I speak from experience.

Two reasons there was no auto-decapitation: 1; I loved the project. 2; I had people like Tyler David Gilbert with just as many hats by my side. Tyler was my boom operator, sound mixer, composer, guest actor, associate producer, and sound editor. The official title for all that I think is Sound God. He was so willing to help out in any and every capacity which I was immensely grateful for. He even became Assistant Director when the wonderful Lannie Barcelone couldn’t stay awake during one of the 16 hour shoots. But everyone helped out immensely and we tried to plan the best we could. Planning makes a huge difference, but not quite as much as good people.

Sound God Tyler David Gilbert
Sound God Tyler David Gilbert

 

I have to say I thought it was a wonderfully original and creative film as well. What inspired you to make this particular story? Obviously you must have been a huge fan of horror films.

Actually I’m not a huge horror fan. I can appreciate horror films but I hate being scared. What inspired this concept was watching a horror film, I think it was Scream, and noticing all the cliches that the characters needlessly put themselves into. Then I started noticing all the tropes and overused concepts in other films and I knew I wanted to make a movie that commented on the stereotypical aspects of films. So I thought what if me and my friends suddenly discovered that we were in a horror film. Then me and Tom Hatfield wrote what we thought we would all do.

What can we expect next on the horizon for Ajala Bandele?

I’m currently directing a short film I wrote called X Ex-Girlfriend which stars Sharon Mae Wang and Shanna Malcolm. A short film I produced titled Deliver Us is being screened at the Directors Guild of America. I also just completed another feature length screen play called Thank You for Trying which I would love to produce and direct this year. And finally I’m one step closer to growing opposable thumbs on my feet, bringing me ever nearer to my ultimate goal of becoming a chimpanzee.

Any hints and tips for any other independent filmmakers out there looking to get their first feature film out there and make a name for themselves?

So many. I could teach a class for beginners. But I would say there are a few important things to keep in mind. Write a script you know how to shoot. That means use the locations you already have access to and have people in mind when writing. If something looks even remotely fake then cheat away from it. Nothing says amateur than a bad filmic element that was only put in because someone thought it could have been cool. Ask everyone for help, because you can’t do it on your own. Get a sound God, because great sound separates bad and good films. And NEVER stop talking about your project. NEVER. Who knows who will be listening. In my case, it was my distributor.

I want to thank you for joining me. It has been a pleasure talking with you. Good luck and I wish you continued success!

Thank you very much!

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You can purchase Ajala’s film OMG… We’re in a Horror Movie on iTunes and you can follow him @AjalaBandele on Twitter!